Being Present with Grandkids vs. Entertaining Them

by Donne Davis on January 30, 2013

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As grandparents, we often think we have to entertain our grandchildren when we’re together. They’re so wired for activity and instant gratification we think we need to feed that or they won’t want to be with us. But sometimes, just “going with the flow and no place to go” can be a satisfying and welcome change for everyone. It can also be a time for us to share some of our wisdom and talents.

Recently, we watched our granddaughters for a weekend while their parents attended a class. It was one of our most satisfying visits. My daughter and son-in-law gave us a wonderful gift—a whole day with nothing scheduled. They gave the girls a vacation from their chores and just asked that they practice their piano lessons.

These kinds of days are rare. In addition to their homeschooling, the girls have an activity everyday of the week that includes gymnastics, piano lessons, horseback riding lessons, Girls Club, and Sunday School. It felt like a lazy summer day for all of us.

On Saturday morning, they crawled into our bed and we all lay there talking. My older granddaughter has so many creative interests, I wondered out loud what she might be when she grows up. “I either want to be a veterinarian or a fashion designer.” We talked about what different paths those were and joked that if she became a vet, she could also design clothes for dogs!

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Since we didn’t have to rush off to a class or do an errand, we read while we ate. We all took turns reading the different characters in Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, the five-year old’s favorite book. I enjoy reading these books over and over. The author, Kate DiCamillo, is a favorite of my older granddaughter. She read all the Mercy Watson books as a three-year old and now has read DiCamillo’s other books.

When it was time to practice piano, they were both eager to show us that they’d finished learning the entire piece of music they were working on: the nine-year old played Beethoven’s Für Elise and the five-year old played Leontovych’s Carol of the Bells. Again, there was no stress about finishing or doing all the exercises.

When we were outside playing hide and seek, their neighbor rode by on his bicycle and stopped to say hello. He told us that his four-year old Scottish Terrier had died suddenly. Both girls were sad and said how much they enjoyed playing with Rufus at their house. After he left, I suggested they make cards for the couple and both girls ran inside to start the project. Both girls expressed their sadness by drawing pictures and describing memories of the little white Scottie whose face always appeared in the window. I was touched when the girls brought the cards over to their neighbors and the wife was visibly moved.

Both girls are very sociable and wanted to visit their friend who lived down the street. Isabella was home and showed us her new baby chicks. On the way home we introduced ourselves to a family who’d just moved into the neighborhood.

As the day unfolded, I marveled at how quickly it had passed even with our relaxed pace. We received the gift of time together, bonding and learning from each other. We grandparents are blessed when we have the time to be present with our grandchildren to savor the simple pleasures of conversation and connection—without the need to hurry on to the next activity. It’s an important lesson to remember when we think we have to constantly entertain our grandchildren to keep them happy.

{ 7 comments }

Joyce February 20, 2013 at 5:23 am

This post brought me back to parenting days when I would refuse to pack up, join the thundering herds driving to Florida (22 hrs from here) for spring break, lay on the beach for a few quick days and turn around and rush right back. Instead, we had a full week of days as described here and I have never had a single regret!
I do “go nuts” planning things for the grandkids, but the days like this in between are precious and those times are when I find out the most interesting things from the kids!

Joyce February 20, 2013 at 5:23 am

This post brought me back to parenting days when I would refuse to pack up, join the thundering herds driving to Florida (22 hrs from here) for spring break, lay on the beach for a few quick days and turn around and rush right back. Instead, we had a full week of days as described here and I have never had a single regret!
I do “go nuts” planning things for the grandkids, but the days like this in between are precious and those times are when I find out the most interesting things from the kids!

Joyce February 20, 2013 at 5:23 am

This post brought me back to parenting days when I would refuse to pack up, join the thundering herds driving to Florida (22 hrs from here) for spring break, lay on the beach for a few quick days and turn around and rush right back. Instead, we had a full week of days as described here and I have never had a single regret!
I do “go nuts” planning things for the grandkids, but the days like this in between are precious and those times are when I find out the most interesting things from the kids!

Joyce February 20, 2013 at 5:23 am

This post brought me back to parenting days when I would refuse to pack up, join the thundering herds driving to Florida (22 hrs from here) for spring break, lay on the beach for a few quick days and turn around and rush right back. Instead, we had a full week of days as described here and I have never had a single regret!
I do “go nuts” planning things for the grandkids, but the days like this in between are precious and those times are when I find out the most interesting things from the kids!

Joyce February 20, 2013 at 5:23 am

This post brought me back to parenting days when I would refuse to pack up, join the thundering herds driving to Florida (22 hrs from here) for spring break, lay on the beach for a few quick days and turn around and rush right back. Instead, we had a full week of days as described here and I have never had a single regret!
I do “go nuts” planning things for the grandkids, but the days like this in between are precious and those times are when I find out the most interesting things from the kids!

Diane January 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm

“Being Present” was a lovely blog. Unplanned time together is very special and sometimes I ask myself, “Should I do more entertaining?” You just gave me permission to “go with the flow.” Thanks!!!

Donne Davis January 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

It’s so easy to fall into that trap of being the entertainer. I honestly think our busy grandchildren enjoy some unstructured time as well.

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